Our Story

History of Trinity Lutheran Church


It was 1861 that the first organized work of our church in Kansas was started by Missionary F.W. Lange who was sent to Kansas and held his first service on Aug. 17, 1861, in the C.F. Wetzel cabin on Clark's Creek about seven miles southeast of Junction City. From that humble beginning the work spread to many parts of the state, but it was a long time before our church established work in the city of Salina.


This cabin was moved and restored by the Kansas District Lutheran Laymen's League, dedicated as a memorial June 5, 1955, and is now maintained by the Kansas Lutheran Historical Society, Inc. It stands at the junction of K-57 and I-70.



Saline County

The County of Saline was officially established on April 27, 1860. In March 1858 the town of Salina was founded, and on March 30, 1859, the Town Company was granted a charter by the Sixth Territorial Legislature of Kansas. 


Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Mission

The very first contacts were possibly made in the year 1923 or 1924 when the Rev. F.W. Grunwald held services in Salina. Pastor Grunwald served at Immanuel Ellsworth from 1919 to 1925. It was also reported that he conducted a few services in the Kansas Wesleyan Commercial Building.

The first organizational attempt to establish church work in Salina took place in the fall of 1924. On leaving Post Graduate Department of Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Mo., Arthur E. Neitzel was called by the Mission Board of the Kansas District to do exploratory work in Salina and vicinity. 

A classroom in the third story of the Kansas Wesleyan Commercial College was used. This mission was called "Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Mission" and is a direct forerunner of the Trinity Lutheran congregation of today. In the archives of the Salina Journal, the first notice of services was found in the Oct. 18, 1924, issue of the paper and other notices appeared after that. Pastor Neitzel also surveyed Abilene and preached there once or twice. After six months of work, there seemed to be reasonable prospects but a sudden need at My Calvary Mission in Marysville, Kan., caused the Mission Board to send Pastor Neitzel to Marysville. Pastor and Mrs. Neitzel left Salina on Feb. 14, 1925, and ended the brief history of Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Mission in Salina.

The Founding


Years helping the Salina Mission 1931-1933

     The Rev. William J. Stelling came to Immanual Lutheran Church of Ellsworth in 1929 and served there until 1948. From time to time he was in touch with people in Salina, and on a Sunday evening in January 1931, began holding services in the northwest part of the city. Services were held in a simple little hall, which at the time was owned by the United Brethren in Christ Church. It was located at what is now 121 N. Chicago just off State Street. 

First Permanent Resident Pastor

Walter G. Schmidt, a June graduate of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, was called to the Salina Mission Station in 1931 by the Mission Board of the Kansas District. He was ordained by his father, the Rev. H. Schmidt, at Immanuel Church of Canton on Aug. 23, 1931. On Aug. 30 he was installed at Salina by Rev. Wm. Stelling, with his father and Rev. Henry Kroening (Circuit Visitor) assisting. 

The Building of a New Church

In the summer of 1932 the Mission Board of the Kansas District purchased two lots on the corner of West Crawford and South 11th Street. Mr. George Schaefer, Atchison, was the contractor and the men of the church frequently pitched in with volunteer labor to help build the first church. The white frame chapel with basement was dedicated April 23, 1933, with the Rev. Wm. Stelling delivering the morning sermon. 

The Salina Mission was organized as a regular congregation and took the name "Trinity" on Oct. 31, 1934. At that time it numbered 31 communicants and 68 baptized souls.

In the fall of 1940 Pastor Schmidt, with the support of several laymen, inaugurated "The Family Altar," a 15-minute program with music and message which was broadcast on KSAL one evening a week. It was well received for a number of years.

In 1943, beginning on Easter, April 25, Trinity started holding two morning services. On July 12, 1943, the congregation voted to join Synod and was accepted at the District Convention in Winfield that fall.

The Building Years 1945-1955

In the Jan. 9, 1944 voters meeting, also the Tenth Anniversary year, it was voted to become self-supporting. In the same meeting, the Trustees were instructed to get information on a new building site. In 1945, two lots south of Crawford on the east side of 10th Street, plus a third lot, were purchased.

The service for laying the cornerstone of the new building was Sunday, Oct. 31, 1948.

The New Church is Dedicated

Dedication Day June 12, 1949.

 Improvements were made at the old church, which became the Parish Hall. 

Acquisition of Educational Building (Trinity Hall)

On Dec. 12, 1958, the congregation voted to accept the proposal to negotiate the purchase of the M.J. Watkins property (six lots, store building and parking lot) just east of the corner of Ninth and Crawford. The property was purchased and remodeled to provide 18 classrooms, two offices, auditorium, kitchen and storage area. Trinity Hall was dedicated in 1962.

As of the 25th anniversary on June 14, 1959, the membership at Trinity numbered 510 communicants and 840 baptized souls. 

The Rev. Stanley Jones accepted a call to establish a congregation in South Salina in 1962. Christ the King Lutheran Church was organized and held their first service Jan. 6, 1963.

Renovation of Trinity Hall

In 1982, Trinity approved a renovation plan for Trinity which added additional classrooms, a nursery, and two offices. 

50th Anniversary 1934-1984


On Feb. 23, 1993, Trinity members approved a renovation and expansion program that would make the two buildings one by connecting them with an expanded narthex that would serve as the main entrance. 

As of May 4, 1993, Trinity had 907 communicants and 1,196 baptized souls. 

Building Renovation Project

Ground-breaking ceremony was Sept. 21, 1997.  Work on the building started and progressed rapidly. After worship services on June 15, 1998, all the church pews were moved to Trinity Hall so they could start renovating the sanctuary.  For 3½ months church services were conducted in Trinity Hall.  The sanctuary renovation work was finished and the pews moved back after worship services on Oct. 4.  


The First Pastors who Served at Trinity

Pastor William J. Stelling

Years Helping the Salina Mission


Rev. Walter  G. Schmidt

First Permanent Resident Pastor

Years at Trinity 1931-1948

Rev. Vernon Henning

Called by Synod's National Emergency Planning Council to be a "Wartime Missions and Conservation" Working

March 1943-March 1944

The Rev. Victor G. Meyer

Years at Trinity 1949-1955


The Rev. H. William Lieske

Years at Trinity 1956-1960


The Rev. Martin L. Mappes

Years at Trinity 1960-1972


During these years, the congregation applied for its first vicar. Trinity had six vicars, as follows.



Alvin Schmidt


Clark Wilkie


John Hargreaves


Paul Graff


Walter Brill




John Werner was the sixth vicar. He would have served 1966-1967, but after a stay of only three months, he entered the Army..


Pastoral Staff from 1968 to 2015

Trinity's First DCE

​(Director of Christian Education)

Harlan F. Teske

​Years at Trinity 1968-1972

Rev. Norman E. Walter

Years at Trinity 1972-1979

Second DCE

Gary L. Bertels

Years at Trinity 1973-1975

Third DCE

Rich Soeken

Years at Trinity 1976-1979

Rev. Daniel M.  Schmalz

Years at Trinity 1980-1989

Fourth DCE

​Marvin Moss

Years at Trinity 1982-1984

Rev. Wendell L. Haubein

Years at Trinity 1985-1996

Served first as Associate Pastor; then Senior Pastor


Rev. Michael W. Barnes

Years at Trinity 1990-1994

Served as the Second Associate Pastor

Rev. Robert C. Schaedel

Years at Trinity 1996-2012

Rev. Charles Adams

Associate Pastor

Years at Trinity 1997-2010


Director of Christian Education and Youth

Dana Oleson

Years at Trinity 1997-2001

Director of Christian Education and Youth

Deaconess Doreen Scheuerman

Years at Trinity 2002-2005

Director of Christian Education and Youth

Melanie Trentsch Vaughn

Years at Trinity 2009-2012

Intentional Interim Pastor

Rev. Joe Hughes

Years at Trinity 2011-2014


Rev. Shawn Deterding

Years at Trinity 2014 to 2016


                 Rev. Dennis Kootz

                                                    Pastor 2015 to present